Designing with Nature for Wellbeing
Pints With Planners is a great podcast published by the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association, aimed at demystifying urban planning. I recently listened to this loosely-structured forum that is geared to make you feel like you’re sitting in a pub having a great conversation with Steve Nygren and the hosts. Steve is the founder and CEO of Serenbe, a wellness community created as a model to demonstrate that preserving 70% of greenspace interlaced with agriculture, housing, and retail is not only economically viable, but the future of community wellbeing. This episode focused on Steve’s experience in the founding of Serenbe, and how he has become a thought leader in meaningful and innovative community design in the spirit of Ebenezer Howard and Ian McHarg. Steve’s passion shines through this wide-ranging conversation recorded in the summer of 2018 in Denver.”
Unless you are stranded on a mountain after a tragic plane crash and embarking on a perilous journey through the wilderness trying to survive (The Mountain Between Us, by Charles Martin), being outdoors in nature can be quite positive. You may say “duh!”, but according to the Journal of Positive Psychology, “there is robust evidence that contact with the natural world improves human health, including emotional well-being.” Not that’s good news!
Case Study: Therapeutic Gardening Helps Alleviate Severe Mental Health Problems
I read the story in The Guardian of a woman who we’ll call Fatu Mangeh (not her real name),who had been raped and tortured during the civil war in Sierra Leone:
Who would have thought – Fast Company as my source for all things biophilic? But here is another interesting article about The Hottest New Wellness Startups – and they’re not what you might think. They’re offering the delight of growing houseplants, delivered to your door. That’s because the demand for indoor plants among city dwellers has skyrocketed.
My wife and I took a walk through the woods in the Silver Springs State Park recently. It was a beautiful day, and we needed a break, so we decided to explore. Along the way, we talked about “Forest Bathing”, and the restorative benefits of being outside in a natural environment – particularly during trying seasons in life.
...for Green Infrastructure
“A leaner, lighter approach to infrastructure is more cost-effective, sustainable, and livable – an idea worth considering . . .”
The ratio of greenery to impervious pavement has a big impact on the quality of life and experience. The typical engineering approach to stormwater is to direct it to catch basins, install pipe, and dump it into geometrically shaped holes in the ground. Developers like to call the surrounding land “lakefront property”, but as the Bard said – “A rose by any other name . . .”
“If a street is primarily designed to move cars, it won't support social connections, small businesses, walking, or many of the other vital aspects of community life. In cities or towns (and in senior living communities), streets are public space.”
One of the first (and still effective) strategies of the New Urbansim
“Traditional neighborhood developments (TNDs), inspired by historic neighborhoods, jump-started the New Urbanism in the 1980's and 1990's as alternatives to conventional master-planned communities.” TNDs brought back the long-lost front porch, as well as accessory dwelling units and the rear garage.